The owners of this beautiful three-bedroom, three full and two half-bath, 4,600-square-foot home wanted it to be the first residence in Napa Valley, Calif., to achieve LEED Platinum status. To accomplish this, it would take some serious focus on sustainability and energy efficiency — so that’s just what they did.
“To my knowledge, no other custom home in Napa is LEED Platinum certified,” says Ellyn Elson, who lives in the home with her husband, Larry. “I’ve come to realize how important it is to build with sustainability in mind.”
LEED Status Through Automation
One of the keys to achieving LEED Platinum was the installation of a complete integrated lighting, climate, and shade control system based on the InFusion control platform from Vantage. The home systems integrators at San Francisco-based Artistic Lighting & Electric worked with Vantage to design and install the system, which was customized to meet the unique needs of the Ellyn and Larry. Included in the system were a host of sensors, keypads, dimmers, and touchscreen controls to provide the homeowners with a way to easily manage their energy use without compromising the home’s decorative appeal.
“It’s a system that really integrated a lot of distinct functionalities throughout the entire home,” says Artistic Lighting & Electric’s Eastman Webber, who designed the system for the Elsons’ home. “And it was all done in a very user-friendly way.”
Simple Setup of Lights, Temperature and More
The Vantage system allows the Elsons to control everything from lighting and temperature settings to audio/video systems through sleek touchpanels with a graphical user interface. Various zones throughout the home can be programmed for different temperatures, and different lighting modes automatically set the stage for entertaining, dining, navigating outdoor pathways, and other needs.
“There’s also a vacation mode and a mode to set a specific scene for the sconces if I just want some quiet light,” the homeowners say. “The touch panels are really nice and simple to use.”
Engaging Energy Saving Strategies
The Vantage system also provides the homeowners with a dashboard that allows them to employ other energy-reducing strategies and see, in real time, the how much they are actually saving. Ellyn says heating and cooling bills for a similar-sized home would run close to $25,000 a year. But because her home is so efficient — a cool roof, sprayed-in insulation, double-pained windows, and a rarely-used heat exchanger that keep it a comfortable 68 to 72 degrees all year long — she pays next to nothing for heating and cooling. An 18.5 kilowatt solar panel system on the roof also renders the home “zero net” energy, meaning that the amount of energy the home uses is equal to that produced on site.
Contributors to Platinum Status
The Elsons’ home achieved LEED Platinum status through many other measures in addition to the energy saving featurs of the Vantage system. Rather than demolish the original 1956 ranch home, crews deconstructed it and reused or recycled 93 percent of the materials. Locally produced materials included recycled quartz countertops, tile, garden boxes, woodwork and cabinetry made from reclaimed cherry trees. Other sustainable features, such as a recirculation hot water pump, Energy Star appliances, insulated floors and native landscaping with drip irrigation, also helped the home earn its LEED Platinum status.
The status is a nice acknowledgement of the sustainability and efficiency of the Elsons’ home. But, for Ellyn, the motivation behind it all is much bigger than that.
“It’s important to me to be kind to Mother Earth,” she says. “I have eight grandkids, and I’d like to leave the world a better place for them. We could make a real difference if more people would do the same.”
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